AmeriCorps alumni give Virtual Service a try

By Kelsey McMahon
Dec. 4, 2023

Peace Corps’ Virtual Service provides U.S. citizens with the unique opportunity to donate their professional skills and remotely support counterparts abroad. Early pilot participants were returned Peace Corps Volunteers, five of whom were also AmeriCorps alumni. These dedicated individuals share why there’s no set or linear path when it comes to serving communities.

A man stands in the middle of 6 Armenian flags
Robby poses with Armenian flags.

Robby Robinette followed his service as a Youth in Development Peace Corps Volunteer (Armenia 2009-2011) with AmeriCorps service at the Imagine Children’s Museum. Robby believes it’s important to give back to communities – both domestically and internationally. He credits his teachers for inspiring him, and he hopes to do the same for today’s youth. In 2023, Robby began co-facilitating online English classes alongside university teachers in Armenia through Peace Corps’ Virtual Service.

“Learning how to respect and learn from others of different backgrounds was one of the greatest lessons I learned from both my Peace Corps and AmeriCorps services. That awareness helped me with my virtual engagement to better collaborate with my counterpart,” said Robby.

James Segerson’s AmeriCorps service (2011-2012), through which he supported New York’s homeless and runaway youth, inspired him to serve as a Peace Corps agroforestry Volunteer in Cameroon (2012-2013). After Hurricane Sandy’s devastating destruction, James volunteered with FEMA Corps (2014-2015), a program of AmeriCorps-NCCC, to assist with long-term recovery efforts. In July 2022, he applied his various service experiences and natural disaster expertise to team up online with a local government in the Philippines. For 24 weeks, James and his counterparts reviewed disaster risk and reduction management documents for areas of improvement and developed a five-year strategic plan.

“[My AmeriCorps and in-person Peace Corps service taught me] to approach projects with partners, not just with the aim to complete them as efficiently as possible, but to do so in a way that builds local capacity. I found this to be particularly important with my virtual service given its shorter time frame,” James said.

A man smiles with a bookbag on
Lucas hiking in Guatemala's lush Union Cantinil.

Lucas Reynolds works in the development of wind, solar, and battery storage projects throughout the United States as a senior data associate today, but he often employs skills acquired through his AmeriCorps and Peace Corps service stints. Lucas signed up to serve with AmeriCorps in 2006. During his domestic service in New York, he provided career guidance to at-risk youth. Serving with the Peace Corps seemed like a natural next step for Lucas. As a Community Economic Development Volunteer in Guatemala (2007-2009), Lucas collaborated with local leaders on infrastructure projects and municipal planning efforts for community development in rural areas. In 2022, Lucas joined Virtual Service, where he and his counterpart increased local accessibility to educational documents for the visually impaired.

“I found many correlations between my service in AmeriCorps and my virtual support of the Ministry of Education's project in Costa Rica. The collaborative process and the building of relationships has always been the most important aspect,” Lucas said.

A man sits on the steps of an ancient building
Clarence enjoys experiencing other cultures.

Clarence Say views service as an opportunity to connect with and learn from others. That’s precisely why he applied to serve as a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Thailand (2017-2019) and then as an AmeriCorps Volunteer for Reading Partners (2020). Recently, Clarence supported Thailand’s Ministry of Education to develop and facilitate a 10-week-long phonics course for local English teachers. Clarence stated the experience was a "beautiful reminder" of his previous time in country, and that with today’s technology, online collaboration is easier than ever before.

“My AmeriCorps service with Reading Partners gave me perspective regarding thinking about new, creative ways to reach and effectively serve communities in the virtual space. It helped me realize that we can apply our knowledge to collaborate with people in more ways than we could before.”

A smiling woman stands in a printed jumpsuit and baseball cap
Amy on a visit to Timbuktu during her service.

Amy Morros shared that her previous AmeriCorps service in Iowa (1994-1995) prepared her to serve as a Peace Corps Environment Volunteer in Mali (1996-1998), where she supported deforestation projects, such as planting trees and constructing mud stoves. Twenty-five years after she returned home, Amy applied both experiences to build capacity in a new way. Alongside her CorpsAfrica counterparts, Amy trained Moroccan community members on ways to strengthen their resumes, write competitive cover letters, and ace a job interview – all without leaving her home.

“I jumped at the chance to get involved with CorpsAfrica volunteers in Morocco and [apply] the expertise I gained in advising international students and young professionals. I found that working with young volunteers [online] and learning from the other participants and CorpsAfrica staff was very rewarding. Virtual [Service] is a great way to build new relationships; I highly recommend it,” Amy said.

You can apply your professional skills to support communities abroad like Robby, James, Lucas, Clarence, and Amy. Express interest in any of the virtual engagements today.

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